Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Without It We Sink

The boat was sinking.  I vividly recall an occasion from my childhood when our family had been invited by close friends to join them for a day out on Vermilion Bay. We all boarded the ski boat anticipating a fun day of sunning, skiing and going fast.

After all the gear, coolers and people were on board the Mercury outboard quickly seasoned the air with an oil/gas exhaust. As we ‘no waked’ our way to open water the back of the boat began to droop. Rapidly it got worse. We were sinking. Someone forgot to put the drain plug in.  Good news is we didn't die.

Truthfully, sometimes as a pastor I feel like the person who has to ask the obvious question before the recreational outing.  Most of my ministry could be summed up with this phrase “Hey my friend, not to be a bother, but did you put the plug in this boat?”

I get it. This question is in one sense annoying and inconvenient. Sometimes it comes across to some even as insulting. Because frankly it’s so basic. When our thoughts are on the bigger adventures and challenges of life, no one wants to be bothered with the ‘plug.’ A self-assured, experienced captain might be insulted by such a novice (nagging) question.  But if the drain plug isn't in, and no one asks the question, then the boat ALWAYS sinks.
The Spiritual equivalent to “is the plug in the boat” is “Is God first in your life.” And I know the question gets annoying to people. It’s so basic. It’s so redundant. But if someone isn’t tending to this question then the boat - your life, your family, your attempts at happiness - sink. Like the open hole left in the boat with no plug, so is the life that avoids addressing this deepest, ok… simplest, of life’s questions. “Is God first?” If God isn’t first, at all times, life starts to take us under.

So here are three really cools things about putting God first.

1. God has a way for you to go. He has a plan for our lives; a story that is being written by him. When he is first we are led to experience the deepest joys and adventures of life. We are led to know Him, ourselves, others, and our world better!
2. God promises to keep you afloat.  When God is first He promises to go with us. He not only points the way, he walks the path with us. God walks with us, wiling do the heaviest of lifting for us. Our God helps us through each and every chapter of life keeping us upright and moving ahead.
3. God’s way is the best way.  God not only has a way, he has the best way. His way is the path the leads to fullness of life. There is no other path that delivers on that promise. God’s way is the best.

So let’s keep asking each other, “Is God first?” I find that when mine, or a friend’s life, is in a mess it can always be traced back to a point when someone forgot the plug. God stopped being first. The boat started sinking. No one asked the question so pretty soon we’re bobbing around waiting for the life saver to be thrown to us. If only someone had the courage to ask the obvious question, “Is God still First.” 

As we begin these summer months of adventure on land, air and sea allow me to bother you once more with the insulting, fundamental question…. Is God still first in your life? I trust and pray the answer is ‘yes.’

“Lord thank you for leading us down the best path of life. Forgive us when we have put other things before you and your ways. We acknowledge that without you we sink, always.  Thank you, that in your mercy and grace you have saved us time and again. Today we put you first. Please help us to always keep you first -  in our lives, in our family, in our church. Amen.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dear Bayside Family

Baysiders, I invite you to join me in doing these three things this week.

1. I'm praying.
I'm praying for you and I'm praying for those friends you and I will invite to worship with us this weekend. It is going to be an UNFORGETTABLE Easter at Bayside!

I'm also praying for all the other churches and pastors who will be sharing the gospel of Jesus to filled churches Sunday. I'm praying for Harborside, Calvary, Countryside Christian, Heritage, Generations, Grace Family, and every church I drive by. Would you pray for them too? These are not our competitors but our teammates. They win, we win!

2. I'm Inviting.
I'm inviting my friends to church and I'm expecting great things. We are going the extra mile this year to ensure your invited guests have a great experience. So you can be confident your friends will be glad they came and you'll be glad you took the risk to invite them. So bring your peeps to Bayside.

3. I'm Preparing.
In preparation for the joy of Easter we will be having a special Good Friday worship experience. The service will last one hour and begins at 7:00. It will be a solemn, interactive and reflective time of worship.

For the past several days I've been praying and thinking over Matthew 28:8 as the basis for the Easter message- "Departing quickly from the (empty) tomb with FEAR and GREAT JOY, they ran to tell His disciples the news."  I'm really looking forward to talking about this. I won't give the whole message here but....spoiler alert... it has to do with the Resurrection of Jesus!

Ready? Together we go to the Cross and Empty Tomb.